The mini lending library outside of the America and Roby Anderson Community Center is providing more than free books. It is lending a place for children and adults alike to share the joy of reading and promote literacy without the worry of a closing time.

The books, for both children and adults, are stored in a barn-shaped red box under the front porch awning at the center, 421 McClure Road in Columbus.

They are available any time and for anyone in Columbus. The hope is that more children and adults become more interested in reading, said Julie Bilz, president of the State Street Area Association and an associate professor at Ivy Tech.

“My job is teaching students who want to be teachers, and I think it is essential that people know how to read, whether its for pleasure or business or any other reason you can think of,” Bilz said.

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Studies have shown that reading for just 20 minutes a day can be beneficial to children, said Brandy Walters, secretary of the Future Teachers Club at Ivy Tech.

“I believe every child should have access to books, whether they can afford them or not, because of the benefits,” Walters said.

Walters added that she hopes the library, which opened Oct. 28, gets a lot of use. Walters said she thinks that the library is so new that few people are aware of it, but from what she has seen so far excitement seems to be the most common reaction from those who learn about it.

No time limit on returning the books has been discussed currently. Center staff simply encourage borrowers to read the books at their own pace and return them upon completion, Walters said.

Most of the mini lending library’s books were donated during a recent book drive, Bilz said.

Members of the Future Teachers Club noticed that the mini library had sat empty after the center — formerly the Eastside Community Center — closed in October 2015. The club decided to have a book drive to restock the lending library.

The drive brought in about 150 books as of Oct. 31. The donations are mostly children’s fiction, but some adult fiction such as mysteries have been included. Bilz said a second book drive is a possibility next year.

However, residents can add gently used books to the library whenever they want, she added.

How it works

What: Mini lending library

Where: Outside the America and Roby Anderson Community Center, 421 McClure Road, Columbus.

How it works: Residents can visit the library to select a book or donate a book. Borrowers can return the books once they have finished reading them and are welcome to then pick out another.

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5633.